It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Von Bondies graced the stage of the Dominion Tavern as an opening act for garage rockers-gone-glam the Makers; even then interest in the band was beginning to bubble.

Since then, Detroit has turned into the new Seattle, with major labels eagerly searching the city’s garage rock scene for the next White Stripes. Sire obviously think they’ve found it in the Von Bondies, and with good reason judging by their performance on a chilly Saturday night at Ottawa’s premier rock dive.

First up were the Hi Lo Trons, a local band which features members of local instro-lounge outfit the Empiricals on keyboards and guitar. While that band’s surf style is still present, courtesy of Gretsch-loving guitarist Paul Hogan (A Hi Lo Tron, for those who don’t know, is a type of Gretsch guitar pickup), it’s buried deep under vocalist-keyboardist Mike Dubue’s abiding love for early XTC. Their set was brisk and entertaining.

Then it was the Von Bondies turn. The audience was eager to see what the group had to offer. The Dominion was at capacity — tickets had sold out several days in advance of the show — for what was probably one of the last shows the band will play in a small club. 

Opening up with the title track from their debut, 'Lack of Communication', the band quickly demonstrated that their rhythmic chops have become tightly honed, and Jason Stollsteimer has become a more engaging frontman, bobbing around on stage when he doesn’t have to be at his microphone.  Drummer Don Blum was a similarly energetic presence behind his kit.

Audience response was enthusiastic but perhaps a little short of total engagement, perhaps because most of the material was unfamiliar (their album didn’t see Canadian release until March), but that was no reflection on the band. Their single 'C’mon C’mon' and songs from their debut were the most warmly welcomed tunes.

A good show, and in the years to come people who were there will undoubtedly be heard to say “Y’know, I saw them back when ...”

The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Andrew Carver

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